Thursday, December 6, 2012

They-May-Take-All-Weekend-But-They're-Totally-Worth-It Crusty White Dinner Rolls

Remember those relatively quick, healthy-ish, hearty-ish Multigrain Dinner Rolls that I posted about in October?  These are not them.  Actually, they're basically the opposite.

These rolls...mmm...they're white, they've got a killer crispy crust and soft interior.  These are the kind of delicious rolls that one is served warm, with silver tongs from a napkin-lined basket, at a nice restaurant.  And, with a little bit of planning, you can bring that level of elegance to your Sunday night dinner.  Okay, fine, you'll end up planning your entire day around them, but they're worth it, I swear. 

They're actually quite easy; there's just a lot of slow rises (which gives it a nice flavor and superior crust).  Luckily the intervals are long enough that you can actually be productive, even if you're dedicating a whole day to dinner rolls.  Saturday afternoon, before your wild night on the town (or your solitary night on the couch with some popcorn and your favorite movie) you can make the starter--that takes less than 5 minutes.  Sleep in on Sunday morning, and then make the dough.  During its first rise (3 hours), clean your apartment, do laundry, maybe even hit the grocery store.  Once the rolls are scaled and shaped and rising again (2 hours), you have time to hit the gym for a real workout.  Come home, put them in the fridge (2-3 hours), shower, prep dinner, and then put your feet up.  The baking time is quite short (25 minutes), so they'll be hot and ready just in time for dinner.  Perfect!

European Style Crusty Dinner Rolls (King Arthur Flour Website)
Makes 12 Rolls

Note: I always convert recipes from cups to grams so I can use my food scale, but the weight of a cup of flour can vary by variety and brand.  My rule of thumb (borrowed from Cook's Illustrated magazine and Flour Bakery owner Joanne Chang) for all-purpose is 1 cup of flour = 140 grams.  However, I noticed on my first go around that everything seemed too dry, and I had to add extra water to help dough come together.  When I revisited the recipe I saw that King Arthur Flour website also offers the recipe in grams, and that they only call for 120 grams of flour per cup.  Using my conversion I had inadvertently put in 90 "extra" grams of flour into my dough--three quarters of a cup!--which accounts for its dryness.  Puzzled, I experimented a bit and weighed a cup of flour using the fluff-spoon-sweep method, (fluff the flour, spoon it into your cup until it heaps, then level off with a knife).  As it turned out, 1 cup of King Arthur AP in fact weighed only 120 grams.  I then dipped the cup directly into the flour bin, compacting it slightly, and leveled it off with a knife, weighed it--140 grams!  So while I revisit my old rule of thumb, remember that if you aren't a food scale owner (seriously! why not??) be sure to fluff, spoon, and sweep your flour for accurate measurements. 

* ½ cup (4 ounces) cool water
* 1 cup (120 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour * ⅛ teaspoon instant yeast 

* All of the starter
* 3 ½ cups (420 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water
* 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
* ¼ teaspoon instant yeast  

Egg Wash:
* 1 large egg white mixed with ½ cup cool water

1. To make the starter, mix the starter ingredients together until smooth, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature overnight. 

2.  The next day, combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead them on low speed until it is a soft, cohesive dough.  (Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients in a large mixing bowl an then knead by hand.)  The surface may still be a bit rough, and it may stick to the bowl every so slightly.  Turn the dough out of the mixer bowl, oil the bowl very lightly, and return the dough to the bowl.

3. Cover the bowl with plastic (I reuse the piece that covered the starter), and let the dough to rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and again after 2 hours.

4. Lightly grease your work surface (I spray my counter with canola oil spray), and turn the dough out onto it.  If you have a food scale (food scale!!!), you can weigh your dough and then use a calculator to see how much each piece should weigh by.  Otherwise, divide your dough into 12 pieces by eye (what a drag--get a food scale!), by dividing it in four equal pieces, then dividing each of those into 3 pieces.  Gather the edges of each piece and pinch them together.  Then lightly cup your hand over the dough ball and roll it (I'm a right-y and I roll counterclockwise), until it's a nice round ball.  Repeat for the remaining dough balls.  

5. Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover them with plastic (reuse that piece!) and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours, until they've puffed, but not doubled in size. They may flatten a little as they rise, but that's okay.

6.  After 2 hours, transfer the tray to the refrigerator and let them chill for 2 to 3 hours. Towards the end of that period, preheat the oven to 425°F. 
7.  Whisk together the egg white and water until frothy. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator, and brush them with the egg wash (you'll only use a bit of it). 
8. With a knife (I prefer a serrated), make a ¼" deep cut across the top of each roll, then pop them in the oven immediately.
9.  Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they're a deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. Or, for best crunch, open the oven door, and allow the rolls to cool in the turned-off, open-door oven.

These rolls are best enjoyed slightly warmed (microwave, oven, fresh-out-of-the-oven, whatever) with a little bit of butter or good quality EVOO sprinkled with kosher or sea salt.  Alternatively, enjoy them for breakfast or a snack with some jam or your favorite spread. 

1 comment:

  1. Macy, I made these over the weekend and they came out ok; I will definitely try them again. Your instructions were excellent and clear. I'm blaming their denseness on a lack of food scale (though we have registered for one!) and an oven that runs about 100 degrees hot and bakes unevenly. Mine didn't brown as beautifully as yours. I'll try them again when I'm home for Christmas and can use my parents' reliable oven.